Staff Spotlight: Nicholas Smith
I am Mr. Stephen Kappeler’s assistant at the Corbin Regional Campus. I completed my B.A. at the University of Kentucky in 2006 in Appalachian Studies and Creative Writing. I have worked previously in the Service Industry, as a literary editor, graphic designer and have been on and off again politically active, specifically with issues regarding environmental protection and civil rights activism. I plan to pursue my Master’s in Criminal Justice as well as Public Health with a focus on Rights of Privacy and Equality.
What do you like best about SJS at the Regional Campuses?
Having local access to higher education is going to be a driving factor in helping our region retain and build economic and intellectual vitality. By allowing local residents to access quality higher level education directly we are promoting personal growth in a way that might not be reachable to those whose other obligations prevent them from traveling to Richmond for a more traditional education. Many of our students are also full time workers, or more, and many of our students are also parents of school age children themselves, or caregivers for older family members. Old economies based on coal and tobacco are entering their twilight and we will all require new modes of thinking to stay competitive and engaged, Regional Campuses provide a unique avenue for this and I am happy to be a part of it.
Why did you choose to become part of the SJS at EKU?
I recently moved back to Eastern Kentucky after being away for about 15 years. When I heard about an opening here at EKU I jumped at the chance. I have been fortunate enough to find myself working with professionals who are focused on helping students first. While I have only been part of the SJS since last December I have already expanded my own views on what constitutes Justice Studies at a University level and I am eager to become more integrated.
What do you like most about working at the Regional Campuses?
I like the small class sizes, access to technology and integration with the community that is provided by the Regional Campuses. At times University systems can seem at odds with smaller communities, but this friction is lessened by having the Regional Campuses which are local and therefore automatically seen as part of the community rather than an external power bringing an agenda to bear on its own terms. While there is something to be said for centralizing education in terms of cost and infrastructure, it is vital that we maintain and improve these local campuses which provide a different vector of educational opportunity for the region. By allowing residents to access education piecemeal and on their own terms, rather than through a traditional four year approach we provide ongoing education as opposed to a one-off make it or don’t system.
How do you make a difference in our Regional Campus students' lives?
Our faculty is committed to being a part of every campus. As a result they are often on the road and unavailable for immediate contact. By maintaining a steady presence at our most central Regional Campus here in Corbin I am able to act as a connector between our students and faculty. My role is to ensure that administrative needs are met and that communications between our SJS students and faculty flows properly. I also help coordinate campus events and make sure they are marketed to our students to help build the program from the inside out.
What advice would you offer to current EKU/SJS students?
Be present. Define your life by the decisions you make, even the mistakes, and not the decisions you passed on through inaction. Engage your faculty and staff, they are here to help you and reaching out to them is ALWAYS the right thing to do. Write things down, it is much harder to give up on a goal if you have it in front of you all the time.
What advice would you offer to prospective EKU/SJS Regional Campus students?
Adjusting to college is a difficult transition. Make things easier for yourself by starting at a campus that is closer to home. Get some experience navigating the classroom which is much different at the post-secondary level. It is a simple matter to transfer to the Main Campus if you choose, or even to another institution. Take advantage of opportunities to get college credit early by taking some courses while still in high school. Don’t buy in to the notion that something is less valuable simply because it is closer to where you are from.
Published on April 06, 2015